dental patient

How Common Is Fear of The Dentist and Can I Get Rid of My Fear?

The new patient coordinator at Susquehanna Dental meets fearful or anxious patients almost daily, so fear of the dentist is very common. It can also range from trepidation to an exaggerated unconscious fear called dental phobia. However, we do believe dental phobia can be overcome eventually.

For those who are fearful but can still convince themselves to visit us, we commend you! We want to help make your regular visits as comfortable as possible.

For those with more extreme fear, we offer tips on how to overcome your fear of the dentist and alleviate the anxiety associated with dental care.

First, let’s look at possible reasons behind it.

What Causes Fear of the Dentist?

A previous negative experience with a dentist is one of the most common reasons behind dental phobia. The thought of needles or the noise of dental equipment such as handpieces can also cause fear.  Fear of pain, side effects of anesthesia, or being in a situation where you are not the one in complete control can be reasons behind avoiding dental care.

Regardless of the cause, however, it is a real phenomenon, and the physical manifestation of that dental phobia can be tachycardia, tremors, a drop in blood pressure, sweating, dizziness, or feelings of nausea.

The staff at Susquehanna Dental Arts understands that each patient is unique.  We strive to treat each patient individually, with grace and empathy. The last thing we want is for you to abandon your oral health care.

How Many People Avoid the Dentist Out of Fear?

218,547,298 troubled teeth

Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to a dentist because of fear, according to WebMD. That’s about 66,630,274 people! It’s estimated that adults have an average of 3.28 decayed or missing teeth during their lifetime, which means 218,547,298 troubled teeth might be missing the help they need due to dental phobia.

So, if you are among the many who fear the dentist, we hope you give us a call. We want to help you overcome your anxiety and get the dental care you need for better overall health. You aren’t the first fearful patient we’ll have. You won’t be the last one either.

How to Get Over Your Fear of the Dentist

A lot of times, fear can start with a lack of communication. We cannot help you if we do not know what triggers your fear. 

  1. Share: We encourage patients to alert our assistants and hygienists to any fears they may have. If we can do something to help or eliminate what triggers it, we will be more than happy to help.
  2. Music: Dental office sounds are a big cause of dental phobia. We encourage you to bring earbuds and music on your phone or iPad. The music will suppress the noise of dental devices.
  3. Knowledge: We can explain, step by step, the dental treatment in your plan so that you are fully aware of what to expect. There is no need to fear needles if there are none in your treatment plan, for instance. Knowledge can enhance your sense of control.
  4. Cognitive distraction: Think of something other than the dental visit. Visualize yourself being in a preferred location, doing something you enjoy.
  5. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The relaxation response, practiced prior to your visit, can be quite effective in helping you relax during your dental visit. For 10-20 minutes a day, a few weeks before your appointment, sit with eyes closed. Repeat a word, sound, or thought as you breathe. Basically, meditate. This can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. You’ll be well practiced by the time treatment day arrives and able to use CBT to alleviate your fear.
  6. Choose holistic dentistry: Holistic dentistry means that we see the care of our patients as a long-term commitment. We look at more than just your oral health and explain all procedures and recommendations. We listen and understand your concerns and answer any questions you may have.

Susquehanna Dental Arts want to help you overcome your fear of the dentist and we hope that, eventually, you see our office as the welcoming place it is. Contact us today to set up a consultation so we can discuss any anxieties or worries that may be preventing you from achieving good oral health.